Daylight-Saving Time Alarms Future Joy and SADness

COMMENTARY | It comes around every year like clockwork (pardon the pun). What time is it? I’m talking about daylight-saving time 2011. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 6, 2011, the time will become 1:00 AM as we all – sans those that live in Arizona and Hawaii — set our clocks back one hour.

The idea of daylight-saving time is controversial. People seem to either love it or hate it. To me, the concept of falling back is welcome. I’m forever overbooking commitments, so having one 25 hour day a year is a blessing.

Growing up in Atlanta, I didn’t think much about the value of time change. The increasing dark of night until Winter Solstice was barely noticeable. However, now making my residence just outside Minneapolis, it’s taken on greater relevance. The time change is arranged to help everyone make the most of daytime during a six-week period of transition as we decrease in exposure to sunlight from more than 10 hours a day in November to approximately eight hours and 45 minutes of light at its December darkest. For Pagans and other Minnesotans that celebrate traditional European and folk customs, the birth of the morning sun on December 22 is a moment of great joy. The darkness is over and second by second, we are gifted with additional building moments of light each day. Unfortunately, to approximately 20 percent of the population the worst is not over. It’s only beginning.

Despite fall daylight-saving time 2011 and an attempt through clock adjustment for the human body to efficiently receive maximum daylight, the time change has no bearing in staving off symptoms of mild to severe seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While the sunlight bounding off the snow in deep winter is cheerful, the impact of sunlight and reflection is different than other times of the year. Scientists researching SAD believe the reason some people experience the condition and others don’t ranges from vitamin D deficiency, ions present in the air, to genetics.

If you’re susceptible to SAD, use your extra hour on November 6 from daylight-saving time this year to begin a personal program to stave off SAD. Conduct research on websites such as, and the National Institute of Health’s Library of Medicine to discover methods to decrease symptoms of winter blues or depression. Common methodologies recommended include exercise, light therapy, vitamin D supplements, schedule and lifestyle changes, psychotherapy and, in some cases, anti-depressants.

This daylight-saving time 2011, I’m turning back the clock, popping extra vitamin D and going for a long walk. While winter’s cold embrace awaits, it won’t be long before we spring forward once again.

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